Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stop arguing with religious people

The only thing that I understand less than religious people justifying their hostility towards homosexuals through the use of religious scripture is people who try to counter this same hatred with religious scripture. The former is an example of magical thinking, a mythological worldview that unhesitatingly believes a teaching, no matter how unreasonable it is. 

The latter is trying to convince magical thinkers that they are incorrect because they are referring to the wrong pieces of magical literature. It's not going to work because dogma does not appeal to logic; it demands that people surrender their ability to reason in obedience to a higher authority, namely a scripture of some sort. In fact, that's what many religions praise--the Orwellian ability to believe in the unreasonable. It's called faith.

That is why appealing to scripture to combat intolerance is doomed to fail, because in order to do so one must sink to the level of illogic in the first place.

I don't believe in talking bushes, people rising from the dead, celestial Buddha realms--and until people experience them for themselves--neither should anyone else. Believing that the Buddha, escorted by a heavenly retinue of Bodhisattvas, actually recited the Lankavatara Sutra is akin to believing that Lord of the Rings actually happened.  

The Bible, like many religious texts such as the Avatamsaka Sutra for exampleis a patchwork of disparate writings stitched together. To say that either is a uniform text with one central message is like saying that America is one singular country. It's not. Like America, these texts have a multitude of competing messages and agendas. 

Some operate on higher moral and spiritual levels than others. The Bible has some of the most horrific, brutally genocidal passages, as well as beautiful, spiritually inspiring ones. But to try to try to convince the fire and brimstone congregants that they should be reading the peaceful passages is fruitless. They don't understand this because they view the world in mythic terms: good and evil, faithful and heathen, saved and lost. 
My point is: we do not treat others with respect and dignity because a book, any book, tells us to. We do it because that's how we treat other humans. As humans beings, they deserve it. 
To even debate the point is tantamount to a fundamental betrayal of our own humanity. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ad Infinitum

Summer is upon us and that means yard work. I have a massive pile of timber planks and dying bushes to chainsaw. But I can't get my chainsaw started. I don't work well with small engines. Or big engines. Or any kind of engines.

2-stroke engines require you to mix oil in with your gasoline, and if you aren't careful--and I seldom am--and leave the mixture in for a long period, it will clog up the gas line and carburetor. Of course that's what happened to me. I left the gas in the saw over the winter and low and behold, it won't start.

So after trying every solution that a mechanically illiterate person can--removed and cleaned the spark plug, replaced the gas, did a rain dance at midnight under a full moon--I cursingly got the chainsaw to start.

Yeah! In freshman literature, we'd call this conflict man vs. machine. I'd call it man vs. self, or better yet, man vs. laziness and stupidity.

I revved the hell out of the engine, partly to clear the gas line, but more to repair my bruised ego by impersonating a rowdy lumberjack. I'm lucky I didn't saw off a limb.

So after about four hours and three stops at the local hardware store, I was successful. I could now go on to saw until sunset.

Not really.

Because now I needed bar oil, a special oil to allow the chain to spin without burning out. So I cut for about twenty minutes until I was fairly certain that the spit-drop of remaining bar oil was running dangerously low.

And that's the way it is with life--we no sooner overcome one hurdle than another appears. What did we expect, life to be like a video game where we finish one final act and are done forever? That's called death. Life continues until it doesn't. We're not done with acts until we finish the big Act, and then as far as I know it's like Hamlet says, "The rest is silence."

Or maybe not. I don't know; I'm not dead.

What I learning is that life is a journey about learning how to live. Some people learn faster and are more adept at navigating and accepting life's hurdles. Then there are people like me who are pretty much in the remedial class version of the journey, supplemented with three sessions of summer school.

Problems are only problems if we view them as problems. Besides holidays and vacations, Mondays are the first day of most people's work week. The sun rises, the alarm clock sounds, we wake up, make our beds (or not), and brush our teeth.

We're only done brushing when we have no more teeth to brush or there is no one to brush them. Until then, enjoy the bumps; I'm on my way to the store to buy some bar oil.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

This Breath - Dharma Talk

Our breath keeps us alive, and yet we seldom pay any attention to it. Following our breath not only grounds us in our bodies, but it slows down our lives so that we can pay attention to what truly matters--what's right in front of us.

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Eunsahn Gartland.